A convicted murderer who fatally shot an off-duty NYPD officer during a robbery in Brooklyn nearly 40 years ago was released on parole earlier this week — the 37th cop killer in the state granted their freedom in just six years.
Alexander Evans, who gunned down Officer James Holmes on March 23, 1986, was sprung from Otisville Correctional Facility on Monday after the state Parole Board decided in favor of his release, state records show.
Evans, 57, was serving 32 years to life for killing Holmes, 47, an NYPD housing cop with 17 years on the job who left behind a wife and four children.
Of the 37 cop killers released since 2017, 33 were murdered NYPD officers.
“It’s pathetic,” said retired NYPD Sgt. Edward Burmeister, who responded to the shooting the night Holmes was murdered.
“To me it makes no sense. [The Parole Board] just seems committed and focused on making everything look good. You’re releasing people that committed heinous crimes,” the 22-year veteran of the NYPD added.
Holmes was off duty and visiting a friend when Evans robbed him in the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, knocking him unconscious.
Evans, who was on probation for a 1984 robbery conviction at the time, took the officer’s gun and holster and left, but immediately returned and shot him four or five times in the chest in cold blood.
Burmeister, who was among the responding officers, rushed the dying cop to Brookdale Hospital, where doctors frantically tried to save him.
Afterwards, a doctor handed Burmeister Holmes’ shield and said, “I think this belongs to you.”
Before he left the room, Burmeister walked up to Holmes and whispered the dead man a promise.
“I told him, ‘I will make sure you are not forgotten,” Burmeister recalled.
Law enforcement sources said the surge in freeing cop killers is due in large part to a revision in 2017 to the rules governing how the 17-member parole board weighs a prisoner’s release, thanks to years of lobbying by prison reformers and legal groups.
A “risk and needs assessment” score that considers factors such as an inmate’s age and record while in prison now “controls the process” a source said.
“They used to give a lot more weight to the crime committed. Now they look at how reformed the person is, as in good behavior in prison, and their age and health. They also look at whether they’ll be able to get a job and have a place to live,” the source said. “All the factors get lumped together in an algorithm that determines how likely they are to reoffend.”
The increasingly left-wing swing of board members — who are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate, is another key factor.
“Too many who are essentially pro-criminal advocates,” the source added.
The police union called Evans’ release “infuriating.”
“When will someone in a position of power step up and say this is wrong? When will our leaders find the moral courage to finally do the right thing and put a stop to it?” said Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry.
The state needs to “appoint parole commissioners who care about crime victims,” more than criminals, he added. “We need them to realize that the release of a cop-killer isn’t just a slap in the face for police officers,” he said. “It makes every New Yorker less safe.”
Holmes’ family continues to mourn, and remember their hero.
Two days after the 37th anniversary of his death, his granddaughter Alisha Holmes — who followed in his footsteps and became a sheriff’s deputy in Marin County, Calif. — posted a touching tribute on his online memorial page.
“After 37 years, I am just now discovering the many memories shared on this page of my grandfather,” she wrote on March 25. “And I’ve never been more proud to be a 3rd generation law enforcement officer than I am today.”